Friday, 10 February 2012

Re-make/ Re-model

Edit-iconI’ve blogged several times about video editing. Movie Maker was fine until the advent of HD video. Windows Live Movie Maker is a feeble version of the original. There’s a plethora of editors out there but as an educator and evangelist for movie making in schools I’m continually looking a good substitute. The only, rather exacting stipulation I make is that it should be very cheap or free – ideally free so that students can pursue the craft at home. Editing film can be a deeply satisfying and creative occupation. My heart lifted last year when I came upon the open-source VLMC project but little appears to have moved since my blog post – at least, the  alpha version currently available for download has not changed since then.
So I was pleased to come upon Serif Movie Plus Starter Edition. I’m pre-disposed to support Serif – their software is generally very good - and inexpensive compared to the giants. They are also a British company. So do I recommend the free download.? Yes... and no. Yes, it is a fine video editor – comparable with a sophisticated Movie Maker although  proably best for older children. But I’m really uncomfortable with the hard sell approach Serif seem to adopt as a company. When I was freelancing I was sent a pack of their software to “evaluate” for a month and was surprised to receive a bill for several hundred pounds a fortnight later. Similarly along with the free edition comes the strong recommendation that you pay another fiver for a pack of codecs to extend the download. The software itself has greyed out features that will be unlocked when you have upgraded and popups encouraging you to do likewise. Then in a few days an email arrived suggesting I ‘upgrade’ to Movie Plus X3 for a tenner or a ‘special offer’ of  £39.95 for X5 (which can currently be bought from Amazon for £24.93). Personally all this hassling makes me want to give Serif a very wide berth*. If you can stand it the Starter Edition is probably the best free desktop video editor I’ve seen.

wevideo storage CaptureThe reverse is the problem with  WeVideo – they don’t wear their information about their free package on their sleeve. They sport by far the best online video editor I’ve seen so far (see video below). It took me sometime to find out exactly what they were giving away (see left). But perhaps the biggest drawback is that they offer no embed code – you have to export your projects to facebook, twitter, YouTube or vimeo – all currently blocked in Suffolk schools. 

I’m planning some Transmedia work next half term and intending to use Google Sites to host the various media. Since our service provider seems incapable or unwilling to unblock our 10gb of free, secure Google Video space it looks like we’ll have to upload our videos as attachments or use SchoolTube  - if they ever get round to setting up my account…

*Update 16/02/2012
Just received another email from Serif entitled "Download four amazing programs for just £4"...
*Update 28/03/2012
After a string of emails from Serif I've just had a phone call from a very nice woman  who gave me some lengthy spiel (I wasn't listening). I then told her that I personally feel this level of follow-up is counter-productive and would she be kind enough to pass this information on... though I'm 99% certain she won't.  A friend of mine leaves the phone on the table and goes away. At least, she says, they aren't hassling anyone else while they're talking into empty space.